What is the law?

The law overview

Smoke alarms have been required in all buildings in NSW where people sleep since 1 May 2006.

They must meet Australian Standard AS 3786.

The legislation requires a minimum of one smoke alarm per level in a residence. Fire & Rescue NSW supports this, and further recommends installing smoke alarms in all rooms where people sleep and in the hallways leading to sleeping areas.

To learn more about the law view Clause 146A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and Division 7A of Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

For homeowners

It's up to you to protect your family and your home.

It's the law to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home. This includes owner occupied homes, rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans and campervans or any other residential building where people sleep.

Fire & Rescue NSW further recommends installing smoke alarms in all rooms where people sleep and in the hallways leading to sleeping areas.

For tenants

It’s the law that your landlord is responsible for ensuring your residence meets the minimal requirements of having at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.

Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms in rented premises.

Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least two days’ notice.

After a tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery if needed in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.

For landlords

It’s the law that neither the landlord nor the tenant are, except with reasonable excuse, permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm fitted in the rented premises.

Where a smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, the landlord must put a new battery in it when a tenancy begins.

After this, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery if needed. However, if the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable after becoming aware that it must be replaced.

The tenant is not responsible for replacing batteries in ‘hard-wired’ smoke alarm systems that have battery back-up. This is the landlord’s responsibility.

The condition report section of the tenancy agreement must include a specific reference to smoke alarms so that tenants and landlords can note and comment on the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

Owners of residential holiday accommodation are responsible for installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries.

Other laws apply to boarding houses and backpacker accommodation.

For caravans and motorhomes

Caravans and campervans, made of lightweight and highly combustible fittings have limited escape options in fires. With just a few seconds to get out of a burning caravan, the warning from a smoke alarm can mean the difference between life and death.

It’s the law that there must be at least one working smoke alarm in a caravan’s bed area, and another in an annex if it used for sleeping.

The law also says the smoke alarm must be fitted with a "hush" button that allows the alarm to be silenced for ten minutes.

Further information

Visit the Smoke alarms section of the Fire & Rescue NSW website: www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=80